“A powerless phone is unfashionable” is how charging station vendor ChargeItSpot sees the positioning of its services at retail.
The company provides secure phone and device-charging kiosks for businesses and retailers, and monetizes consumers’ perpetual need for connectivity. Found in luxury stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom as well as casinos, events, stadiums, hotels and even hospitals, the kiosks have increased dwell time for customers and visitors by 2.15 times. For retailers, this can increase average basket size by more than 29 percent and conversion rates by 54 percent, according to a ChargeItSpot study conducted by GfK.
The availability and demand for charging stations is driven by a massive number of consumers with mobile devices. Smartphones are now owned by 68 percent of U.S. adults, which is up from 35 percent in 2011, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.
Doug Baldasare, chief executive officer and founder of ChargeItSpot, conceived the idea of the kiosks while in Miami on a weekend trip in September 2011. A mission with a friend to rent “Scarface” on DVD turned into hours of misadventures, searching all over the city from store to store without success until they finally found the DVD at a Redbox kiosk, where they rented the film. At that point, though, their phones were either dead or dying, which complicated the rest of their plans, among other things.
With his nearly dead phone in hand, Baldasare looked up at the retail store in front of him and thought, “Why can’t I just charge it in there?”
ChargeItSpot kiosks securely hold phones, Kindles and mini-iPads, which lock in small, single drawers. Tall and narrow with transparent drawers and a digital touchscreen, each custom-branded kiosk resembles the stature of a standard school locker. Opti-charge technology charges each device to its maximum level at the same speed of the device manufacturers’ charger, which protects batteries from damage. And, charging is free for consumers, enhancing customer service experiences for brands, stores and venues.
Through the free ChargeItSpot app, users are notified when their phone dies down to 30 percent battery, and the app subsequently provides the location of the closest ChargeItSpot kiosk. Retailers can also glean data and insights from the kiosks, which capture opt-in shopper data. Described as an “omnichannel marketing tool,” kiosks can collect e-mail addresses, phone numbers, surveys and usage data.
Baldasare initially thought that retailers would think of his idea themselves, but over time he realized that the trend wouldn’t catch on organically. “Retailers are experts at buying merchandise, not hardware,” Baldasare told WWD.
When challenged about the future of device charging kiosks as technology for on-the-go mobile accessories and battery science continues to advance, Baldasare referred to a statement by Elon Musk: “The issue with existing batteries is that they suck.” In other words, we still have a long way to go.
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